When François Truffaut’s Life Imitated His Art

A filmmaker becomes his own character.
Francois Truffaut Day For Night
By  · Published on January 23rd, 2018

A filmmaker becomes his own character.

It goes without saying that “Hitchcock/Truffaut” is one of the most influential — if not the most influential — film books ever published. One need only watch the 2015 documentary of the same name and listen to its cast of interviewees (Martin Scorsese, Wes Anderson, Peter Bogdanovich, et al.) talk about the book in order to understand its impact. 

When Alfred Hitchcock received the AFI Lifetime Achievement Award in 1980François Truffaut himself described the famous text as “a cookbook full of recipes for making films.” It is an essential companion to anyone who wants to get the most out of their journey through Hitchcock’s filmography.

But what about Truffaut’s own body of work? What can the week-long conversation between the two directors teach us about this leader of the French New Wave? In Truffaut, we have not only one of film’s greatest directors and critics, but also one of its greatest ambassadors. In examining his life and work, one finds a man with an insatiable curiosity and unwavering passion for the art of cinema. A man who dedicated his life to the craft.

Johannes Binotto explores the relationship between Truffaut’s art, life, and the aforementioned book in a short, yet incredibly compelling video essay titled “Juxtapositions I: Truffaut/Truffaut.” The video is part of a series focused on the subtle, often accidental similarities that emerge in film. Other installments include an examination of movement in Hitchcock’s Vertigo and a look at the unintentional connection between Nosferatu and Portrait in Black.

“Truffaut/Truffaut” begins with a clip from a 1984 television appearance by Truffaut, during which he reflects on a passage from “Hitchcock/Truffaut.” Binotto then follows this with a sequence from Day for Night, Truffaut’s 1973 film about movies.

In fewer than two minutes, the video essay reminds us once again that life imitates art.

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Will DiGravio is a Brooklyn-based critic, researcher, and video essayist, who has been a contributor at Film School Rejects since 2018. Follow and/or unfollow him on Twitter @willdigravio.